Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Not-Eclair Cake and Easy Tiramisu

I was going to make an Eclair cake, but forgot some parts, and changed others, so I pretty much ended up with something different. I made the first layer of graham crackers, and the first layer of pudding, and while I pondered why it looked so wrong and why I was running out of pudding so fast, I added a layer of oreos dipped in coffee (yes, using a spaghetti server - hey, it worked great)

Then I remembered that the pudding was supposed to be mixed with cool whip. That resulted in a couple phone calls, and an excursion to the grocery store by someone on my behalf. I passed the time sprinkling cinnamon on the oreos (can you really go wrong with any combination of coffee, chocolate, and cinnamon??) and squirting some canned whipped topping in between the oreos. When the cool whip arrived, I mixed that with the last remaining bit of pudding and did the last layer: chocolate graham crackers. Delicious!


And now along the lines of custardy desserts: tiramisu. I finally managed to track down some mascarpone cheese, and to my surprise found some real ladyfingers in my pantry. I spent a little time trying to figure out when I got them and where, since I have had the worst time trying to find them in stores lately, then I realized I must have gotten them some time ago, and decided not to think about it anymore since they still seemed fine, and even had a nice easy recipe on the package. My paraphrase from memory:

  1. Separate three eggs; beat the egg whites until firm.

2. Mix the three egg yolks with 6 tablespoons of sugar and 8 oz of mascarpone cheese and then blend the two into a custard.

 3. Dip the ladyfingers in strong coffee and make a layer in the pan. (Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of the one I made with actual ladyfingers. These pictures were taken using margherite cookies instead - see my notes below regarding substitutions) Cover with a layer of the custard, then another layer of coffee-soaked ladyfingers, then the rest of the custard, and sprinkle the top with cocoa powder. Keep refrigerated until served. Can be made a day or so ahead of time.

I made this for our last potluck at church. Because there wasn't very much of it to go around, I put a sign on it saying it had strong non-decaf coffee in it. Did that slow down the children? I somehow didn't get the feeling it did. Fortunately, I did manage to snag a little before it was gone.

A couple weeks later I made it again. I could not find ladyfingers in any of the grocery stores I checked...grr. Note to self: If I can't find something in a store one time, wandering hopefully through the international section or the cookie aisle on subsequent visits isn't likely to yield any different results. It may, of course, result in my getting either some other kind of cookie, that I really don't need to be eating, or some obscure foreign food that looks interesting, that I may or may not like. Anyway, I really just need to check the international grocery, or start making them myself if I can't find them there. Actually, Bex has sent me a recipe to make them, which purports to be EASY! I will have to try it and let you all know how it goes, but I haven't yet, so that isn't what this post is about.

So moving on with some notes on substitutes: First, I suppose that cream cheese could be substituted for the mascarpone, but I can't officially vouch for that since I haven't done it. I think the mascarpone is softer (I didn't have to soften it at all to get it to mix with the custard) and possibly sweetened - at any rate, I don't think it's as tangy as cream cheese.

Most of all though, I must note that as far as cookies with which to make tiramisu, they are most definitely not all created equal. In this case, I got some cookies that looked similar to ladyfingers (see the picture; the margherites are in the pan and the ladyfinger is held in front. I was hopeful because the Margherites were approximately the same size and shape of ladyfingers (in case you were wondering, about like um, a lady's finger...not a delicate lady's finger, but a plumpish sausagy sort, flattish and of course without any knuckles or fingernails. Actually, probably more the size of a man's finger, but that just doesn't sound dainty and appetizing the same way...but, well, now I'm disturbed that any kind of finger is supposed to sound appetizing.) Well, anyway. Margherites are NOT the same. You see, the primary distinguishing feature of ladyfingers is the absorbency. A real ladyfinger, you must dip very quickly in the coffee, and even then it pretty much falls apart almost immediately, so you decide it would be better to just lay them in the pan and drizzle the coffee over, and you find that they seem to be inquenchable, and one layer in an 8x8 pan will easily absorb a full cup of coffee, and get even plumper. And then you find that the second layer, on top of the custard, is even more fun, because it drinks up any coffee that overspills onto the custard.

Margherites, on the other hand, are more just like vanilla cookies I guess. I had high hopes when I quickly dipped one in the coffee, but no such luck. Margherites require more of a soaking process, I found. I improvised with the same process I used for the oreos.

Even so, they did not swell and fill the pan, meaning I also found myself running a little short on the custard because it had to fill the spaces between the cookies instead of just laying on top.

Still, when all was said and done, it didn't come out half bad!

1 comment:

  1. That not-eclair cake was pretty tasty, despite being wung. :)